Engagement: the powerful, yet often enigmatic final measurement of success in the process of strategic content marketing.
To the chagrin of content marketers everywhere, sometimes it feels like they are constantly arguing the value of exactly what it is that they do… “So we got 200 likes, is that good? Are more people buying my product now? We spent $500 on this video, was it worth it?”
When it comes to engagement, online video creation is the clear winner; video on social media begets 1200% more shares than text and photos combined.
You already know that video is one of the best ways to increase your online engagement, now you need to know how to measure and understand your success.
Defining and measuring content engagement
If we want to get clinical, engagement can be defined as an “emotional, cognitive and behavioral connection that exists between a user and a resource.”
When we talk engagement, we’re talking about the connection your online community have to the content you release, and then, what actions those connections inspired. Knowing how to measure engagement for your online content can save you from playing the guessing game, and turn your content into a tool for providing data that’s applicable and valuable to the future of your business.
Figuring out how to measure engagement means being able to reveal the value of your content marketing efforts in a more quantifiable way that social media usually allows. However, there isn’t one quick answer; measuring user engagement isn’t always a simple mathematical equation. Why not? Because knowing how to measure user engagement looks different for each individual business.
First, you need to decide on your goals and KPIs, and reverse engineer your strategies from there. It’s a process of self reflection, but you have to start somewhere.
For the most part, no matter the platform, you need to be asking yourself: “Is my content inspiring action?” or better yet, “Is my content inspiring the type of action I’m looking for?” Perhaps the very first question should be...
What does success mean to you?
Chris Meares of Maass Media calls it the “so what” test. Say that you create an online video and it gets a lot of comments, and likes, and the view count is through the roof.
Well, so what?
“What can I do with that information that will help me increase my bottom line, either through increased revenue or a decrease in expenses. In short, how can measuring and reporting on engagement be turned into an action item to positively impact the business?”
If there was a quick and easy answer to that question, it would help a lot of content marketers sleep better at night. Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick answer, but you can definitely focus your final results reports.
For example, if you are looking to attract more customers to your e-commerce website, and you release a video, then your measure of success might be the number of times people click the link to your store at the end of the video, or in the video description.
If you are a social action platform, then your measure of success might be seeing the conversations that erupt in the comments section.
For more broad goals, like brand awareness and promotion, you might want to take a measure of numerous types of viewer reactions to craft a fuller picture of your content’s influence.
Regardless of your goals, some types of engagement are more valuable than others.
“The single most important strategy in content marketing today is video. Whether it’s video on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Youtube, the content you need to be thinking about creating and marketing on social for your business is video. Period.” - Gary Vaynerchuk
Vanity Metrics vs Meaningful Metrics
Great content marketing doesn’t stop at simply bringing people to look, it inspires the viewer to take action, which let’s you know that your marketing is working; you can begin to measure engagement by taking a look at such actions.
Let’s start by learning to tell the difference between important metrics and “vanity metrics” – which on Digital Marketing accurately describes as measurements that “[sound] impressive but [do] not provide any real value to evaluating the success of an online marketing initiative.”
For example, just because someone stayed on your site for a long time, it doesn’t mean that it was a positive experience. Here is a really good example from User Zoom:
“You surf, surf, surf (visited pages) and read, read, read (time on site), but you have a hard time finding the information you are looking for or you understand very little. The question is: Has your visit been satisfactory? Probably not. But wait: what does the web analyst report? In line with the measuring metrics he uses he may say: “Woooow, our content is incredible and creates high user engagement. Look at how much time users surf on our site and read our content”.
The trick is measuring the quality, or type, of the engagement action itself. We want to find out if the experience is not just lengthy and notable, but POSITIVE for the user.
Examine a number of different data sources in order to be able to more accurately measure user engagement.
Platforms As Data Sources: Not All Metrics Are Created Equal
How to measure Twitter engagement looks different than how to measure Facebook engagement, and they both look different from how to measure blog engagement.
Lucky for marketers, today, every major platform has a variety of different ways to measure audience response, some more meaningful than others.
We could spend days going over each platform individually, but for now, we’ll provide you with the basics for each platform. Once you figure out what success means to you, you’ll be able to focus on which metrics are the most meaningful to your campaign.
How To Measure Twitter Engagement
Twitter’s user toolbox is Twitter Analytics. There, you can examine the number clicks, mentions, favorites, retweets and impressions your tweets received. They’ll tell you which tweets had the most impact; how many times users have seen, RT’d, loved and replied to each Tweet. This can also help you learn more about your followers, and allow you to see their interests and demographics.
Go to https://analytics.twitter.com/user/[YOURTWITTERHANDLE]/home and take a long hard look at the response to the content you’ve posted.
Also, if you don’t already use Twitter cards, you should probably start. Twitter cards are those little content preview boxes that allow people to get a taste of the content before they click away. If you are looking to improve your content engagement on Twitter, have a quick chat with your developers about twitter cards.
How To Measure Facebook Engagement
“People are sharing and creating nearly three times more video on Facebook than they were a year ago…This presents a big opportunity for marketers.” - Facebook operating chief Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook Insights is where you can drill down and see all the details of all your posts, learn about what is working for your audience and what isn’t. Similar to Twitter, you can learn more details about the demographics of your customers as well. Then, you can take that information, and cater future content to viewers who you know are already prone to actionable engagement.
But it isn’t all about the likes.
Dara Fontein from Hootsuite says, “Possibly even more important than the sources of your Likes, however, are the insights into your Unlike Sources. Click on the ‘Unlike Sources’ link, and you can see the number of ‘Unlikes’ you received from your page and posts, or from users who unliked your Page after hiding a post. This is key information, as you are able to track what type of content is driving people away, and therefore avoid posting similar content in the future.”
How To Measure YouTube Engagement
There is a LOT to know about your YouTube videos, and YouTube Analytics is an incredibly robust research tool. It can even tell you which parts of your video content people are connecting to most - when they rewind, rewatch, or if the video is shared at a particular time. You can see what your community likes, and what they don’t - helping you to make informed decisions about where to focus the next steps of your business and content creation efforts in order to satisfy the most active members of your community.
These “engagement reports” drill down subscribers, likes, dislikes, favorites, comments, and sharing - you can clearly see how users are receiving and interacting with your content.
How To Measure Blog/Website Engagement
Google Analytics provides you with an almost overwhelming amount of information that you can dissect in order to find the exact measurements that are important to you. It can help you figure out what keywords are working, which posts are leading to sales and where people are finding you (via social or search). You can also see bounce rates and exit rates, which are helpful to for seeing if individual content kept readers on your site.
*However, as we learned from the neverending web page surfing story from UserZoom, not all measurements are created equal, so supplementing your research with surveys is also helpful.
“Visits & page views are susceptible to all sorts of external factors, like SEO, SEM, press, seasonal traffic swings, etc. Bounce rate is dependent on the type of traffic you recruit, going up with things like SEO/SEM and down with directed traffic. Time On Site and Pages/Visit are good, but will oscillate with design changes, e.g. paginating long text articles will increase Pages/Visit without being any better for your site.” - Quora’s Joel Lewenstein
Measuring engagement for your content is key to creating lasting relationships with your online community (and isn’t that the real goal here?). Learning how to measure engagement will help you focus your content strategy, and decide whether or not your content is working, and if it is inspiring people to take action.
Some aspects of engagement are more valuable than others, and once you are able to learn what your audience likes, and doesn’t like, then that is when the real work begins. Measuring engagement is part of the never ending process of figuring out what works for your company.
Great content engagement starts with creating great content, and creating great content starts with Showbox.